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Defund Fest Provides a Look into Non-punitive Forms of Justice in Montreal
The Coalition to Defund the Police hosted their second annual festival to defund the police.
Jay Sallos Carter is an organizer for the festival explained the significance of this festival. "It's not a demonstration or [protest], its a celebration of the amazing community work thats being done – the amazing work that individuals are doing to reimagine what community safety and what public safety looks like," said Sallos Carter.
He said this event focuses on what community-centred justice and restorative justice looks like and what these approaches to harm reduction can look like in our society.
Sallos Carter said these types of events are informational and offer community perspectives on safety. He added that often community members can have a disconnect between punitive forms of justice and what is actually happening.
"There's this idea that our communities can't be safe unless we have punishment ... but time and time again, over the years, when you look at the impacts of punitive justice, it's negative," said Sallos Carter. "We see great rates of recidivism, we see people that are blocked out of career paths, that are blocked out of housing opportunities and put into situations where sometimes there's no other option than to take [unsafe] paths."
Sallos Carter said the budget allocated towards Montreal police within the 2023 municipal budget is an "enormous number". This year, Montreal's police budget increased by $63 million – totalling an annual budget of $787 million.
The police budget has been steadily increasing over the last decade. Montreal’s police budget increased by 169 per cent between 2002-2022 – from $429 million to $724 million.